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Can I breastfeed and litigate?

Monday found me, for the second time, standing in a bathroom stall at the courthouse using my hand pump to pump 5 ounces.  Then I remembered that I had cleverly loaded a bottle onto the hand pump, and I had then left the cap in the car.  Even with an oversupply and a decent freezer stash, I didn’t want to just pour those 5 ounces down the drain.  I felt so angry with myself, and so frustrated.  I had planned ahead, and all for naught!  I wound up just leaving the cap part of the hand pump on and putting the bottle upright in my bag.  When I took it out later, I only had two ounces left.

Let me lay out a typical court day.  Court is an hour away and starts at 8:45 or 9am.  Most hearings take a minimum of 1-2 hours. I usually pump around 8 or 9 am after I get to work and again 3 hours later.  Traffic varies by day and weather.  So here is probably the ideal plan:

-5:30 or 6:00 – wake up, get ready for work
-6:30 or earlier – feed the baby when she wakes up
-6:45-7:00 – leave for work, drive to my office or directly to the courthouse, if traffic is too bad to stop off at my office, drive to court and pump in my car.
-8:00 – stop at office, get whatever files I forgot, pump
-8:35 – pull into parking lot, pay for parking, go to court
-11:00/12:00 – hearing ends or breaks, go back to car and pump or drive back to work and pump.

The courthouse actually has a tiny office that I can get a key to, but I don’t have one yet.  So I’ve been doing an uncomfortable combo of bathroom pumping and pumping while driving back to my office.  The parking lot is a 10 minute walk from the courthouse, and today it was freezing raining.  So pumping in the bathroom was actually preferable to going back to my car and pumping and then going back into the courthouse.  But as I lugged all my stuff up the hill to my car to feed my meter and set my bottle of milk in the car and realized that half of it had leaked into my purse, I started wondering whether breastfeeding is really worth it when it is making my life this difficult.

There are women who just nurse at night and on the weekends and formula feed at daycare.  Nursing, and breastfeeding, remains really important to me.  Our kiddo has a hard enough time taking a bottle, I think feeding her formula would actually really upset her.  So, continuing to pump it is.  I just don’t know how to make this work.  Of my coworkers, one exclusively pumped, and the others were in court less and have less of a commute.  (Exclusively pumping would be easier because I could pump in the morning instead of depending on the baby’s timing.)

I spent some time looking at the Freemies system, because the idea of wearing something that I could wear under my clothes and discretely pump in court is pretty appealing.  However, based on this review, they don’t look that discreet.  I will be getting a key to the closet my organization has at the courthouse, and I will be working really hard to be more organized so that I do not have to stop at my office before court.  The end result of this, for now at least, is that I will have to get ready to leave a full hour before I actually leave the building.  I will make sure I have everything for court the next day, if I’m going straight to court, and then I will pump and clean my pump parts, and then I will make whatever final notes I have to make, update whatever to-do lists I have to update, make sure I sign out on the office clipboard, and then head home with all my files and documents for court.  I will also have to use the same rule I use with the baby for everything else in my life – assume it takes another half hour to get anywhere.  If I have an extra half hour when I get to the courthouse, I have time to pump and make sure I have everything for my case.  I have time to talk to the clerk about the docket and maybe let her know that I’m breastfeeding and if I’m not in the courtroom around noon if they call my case then, it’s because I’m pumping and can they pass the case until I come back?

I have never been an organized person, but as my last therapist used to remind me, if you do not practice a skill, you do not get better. So I’m going to practice being organized and put together, and see where that takes me.  Every month, I tell myself, “at least I’ve made it this far.” Then I ask myself if I think I can do another month.  Which feels manageable.  And so, we go, onward.

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Well.

So how is my new job? It’s great. It’s fascinating. It’s mostly new areas of law, but I still get to do some domestic violence law.  The people are fabulous and overall everything is going swimmingly.  Except for two things. The commute, and this pregnancy.

The commute is long. It’s 45 minutes to an hour, and if I take the train it’s an hour and ten minutes, including riding my bike a mile to the train, then a mile to my office, and the same going home.  I like the bike ride and it’s nice to take the train.  Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not an option – if I have court or a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, I have to drive.  Which is exhausting.  Even if I’m not driving, I’m still losing 2 hours of my day – which basically is the time I used to spend cooking and that I used to spend going to the gym.  So my gym routine has suffered considerably.  I’m working on figuring out how to work out at work on my lunch break, but there isn’t a nearby gym and walking laps around our parking lot is pretty dreary.  We have a lovely trail nearby, but it’s pretty much a mile to get to it.

As an aside, let me just say: Pregnancy is an awfully humbling experience.  It’s really really easy to judge other people who are pregnant for subsisting on bacon cheeseburgers and then you get pregnant and you can’t keep anything down but grilled cheese.  What to Expect is like, “eat 19 servings of vegetables a day, it’s not hard!” and in the beginning you believe them but then you quickly realize that it’s actually not possible to consume as much food as they recommend.  And maybe there are women out there who are still able to be awesome and feel fit and good up through their third trimester, but I’m going to let you in on a secret: a lot of us are faking it.  I did a 5k over the weekend and pretended I felt good, but really it was uncomfortable because they did not have a bathroom on the course and also walking a 5k by yourself is pretty dull, especially when it’s on a runway.  I’m glad I’m still able to walk, and I’m glad I’m signed up for another 5k, because it is keeping me motivated to stay active, but man, did I have expectations which are ridiculous.  Third trimester is uncomfortable.  It’s exhausting.  I thought I was going to be better at being pregnant than I am, and I’m just not.

Anyway, the reason pregnancy has made my job transition difficult is that about a week after I started, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and classed as “high risk”.  Which means more doctors appointments and more monitoring.  They’ve had me coming to the OB weekly, plus I have to see an endocrinologist and go in for additional ultrasounds and monitoring to make sure the baby isn’t growing too big.  I also have regular therapy appointments, so I’m seeing a minimum of two doctors a week, pretty much.  Which means needing to work longer hours on some days to make up, and means driving to work when I have doctor’s appointments.  I don’t really like coming into the office at 11am or leaving early to go to yet another doctor’s appointment, so it’s been pretty frustrating.  However, the hours are flexible and my supervisor is very understanding and sympathetic about being high risk.  A lot of my coworkers have kids and are full of helpful working-parent advice and it’s just a good environment to be in.

So overall, things are going well, but my blogging has suffered and will continue to suffer.  IT can also always log into my computer, so I can’t write from the office in my downtime anymore.  But I will continue to update when I’m able!

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Review: Citizen Tokyo

When I was early in my pregnancy, I wondered how long I would be able to ride for.  I gave up my Giant Cypess earlier this year and I immediately regretted it, even though the main reason I got rid of it was that I couldn’t carry it, which would have only gotten worse.  I think, with rack and lock, it weighed 30+ lbs.  So I mentioned to Mr. Porro that if I couldn’t keep riding my hybrid, I was thinking of getting a folding bike.  With a low standover frame and very adjustable handlebars, I could get as upright as I needed to, and folding bikes are more lightweight than other bikes.  

I knew the most common folding bike was Dahon, but I also knew that those were on the pricier side.  I went to an Alleycat with a girl who had a folding bike, and she seemed pretty happy with it and able to keep up. I remembered the brand being Citizen, so I googled Citizen Bikes.  I was immediately intrigued by the low price point and the variety of styles that they offered. I looked into the bikes carried by our local bike shops, which were Dahon, Downtube, Fern, and Brompton, but they were all more than I wanted to spend on a bike that I might only ride for 3 months.  I checked Craigslist and even set up an alert.  

The real push to buy the folder happened at the end of June, when I was offered my new job, because having a folding bike would mean that I could take it on the train.  Which meant I could make my new 30 mile commute by train instead of by car, which is infinitely appealing to somebody who loves to read and hates to drive.  I still wasn’t sure how the bike would actually ride and wasn’t sure which model to get.  Then my friend in the courthouse mentioned his coworker rode a folding bike to work, and I checked it out, and there it was, a Citizen Tokyo!  She let me test ride it around the office and gave me an honest review of how it worked to take it on the train, etc.  I had been worried that the 16″ wheels would be too small, but riding it around the office, they were just fine.  I was all set to order, and Citizen was out of the colors that I wanted – I was deciding between the orange and the light blue, and suddenly they only had black, gray, and red. I called customer service and they assured me they would have the other colors in stock soon.  So I waited (although they said they could pre-order, but I was still deciding.)  Once they came back in stock, I think it only took about a week for my bike to show up, but I had it shipped to my sister’s house because people steal packages in our neighborhood.  So, that was the purchasing process, and here is my review:

Citizen Tokyo with rear rack and comfort saddle (both optional upgrades): 

Riding: A folding bike is not going to ride the same as a road bike.  It just isn’t.  At least not when it has 16″ wheels.  If I wasn’t pregnant and worried about carrying it on the train, I would have gotten the 20″ wheels and I think that would have been better.  It also only has 6 speeds.  So it actually handles going up hills pretty well, but going downhill, you can only pick up so much speed and then you just have to coast, which is really frustrating when you know you could normally catch that light on your hybrid but your pedals are spinning aimlessly.  I actually now understand the appeal of a fixed-gear folding bike, but I don’t think Citizen actually makes one – they make a single speed, which maybe you could fix yourself? I dunno.  I spend most of my time riding in the 6th gear, occasionally shifting down at hills.  However, for the most part, it is fun to ride and faster than walking.  I haven’t yet figured out how to mount a lock.  

Hauling: The rear rack also is so low to the ground, and has slightly thicker tubes, that I thought my Racktime bag wouldn’t fit, but it does. My regular Ortlieb panniers do not, so farmer’s market has been tricky. I bought a bag/basket for the front, but installed it upside down and also can’t quite get it to work, so I may need to call somebody about that.  

Folding: Folding is mostly easy, but there is a small pin that fits into a thing, so you have to yank really hard to get it open and push it really hard to get it closed. If it doesn’t lock into place, it tends to swing open. Once it is folded in half, it can be pushed and rolled, kind of the way you would push a stroller. It’s a bit unwieldy for long distances (which is why at my old job I locked it up rather than bringing it into my office) but fine for the train.  I rarely fold the handlebars down and lower the seat, but when I do, the whole thing fits in the trunk of our Corolla.  I no longer have to walk on days my husband picks me up from work.  I have found that it is much much much easier to carry a backpack than deal with my Racktime bag while I fold the bike, so I’m on the hunt for a good tote bag that converts to a backpack.  Our city has a free boat shuttle system I’ve taken the bike on a couple of times and I haven’t even had to fold it up to do that, but it’s been pretty easy to maneuver except the steps are wide.  If you are pregnant, accept help from anyone who is willing to help you carry your bicycle.  Frankly, if you are a strong looking person watching me struggle with my bike at 29 weeks pregnant, I’m going to judge you.  Especially if you tell me not to hurt myself but don’t offer to help.  I took it on the train for the first time yesterday.  Getting up the steps with it folded isn’t easy, and there isn’t a great place for it, but otherwise it worked really well.  Except that I got on the last car of the train and had to walk through three cars to get off at my stop, which meant rolling it through 3 cars where the handlebars are ever so slightly wider than the seats and I had to navigate around each one.  I have a bag but haven’t used it yet.  I mostly bought it just in case we ever fly or take a bus/train with the bike and need to check it.  

Commentary: Something about the folding bike opens you up to a lot more commentary. If you do not want people to talk to you while you ride to work, do not get one of the pretty colors.  I get a lot of, “hey, nice bike!” or “I love that bike, hon” or “what kind of bike is that?” comments. My friend who has it in black says she also gets a lot of commentary, but I think it’s probably worse with the more eye-catching color.  The good thing is, most of this commentary is actually bike related – people ask me if I fold it up, if I can put it in a suitcase, they want to know where I got it, they want to ask how I like it.  I’m not big on talking to total strangers while riding a bike 29 weeks pregnant in a city where bike theft is really common, but so far it’s been positive and harmless.  

Pregnancy:  The standover frame is great. It’s such a relief to not have to swing my leg up and over. It’s still easy to step over it. My belly is getting in the way a bit, and the handlebars don’t adjust quite as far up as I would like.  The bike itself is not lighter than my Canondale Quick 3, because I bought the lightest hybrid possible, but at 26lbs, it’s not bad and the frame makes it pretty easy to carry up the steps.  I am SO GLAD I sprang for the comfort seat. The regular saddle that comes with it is probably perfectly comfortable for the average person, but if you are on the heavier side or expecting, just pay the $18 and upgrade the saddle.  It’s SO comfortable.  

There is a lot of flexibility that comes from having a folding bike, and I’m definitely thinking about the possibilities of my husband having one as well.  It would be so easy to just toss them in the car and head up to my in laws house, and ride our bikes to the beach, instead of fussing with the rear rack.  (One of my coworkers has a Yepp Mini mounted to her folding bike, so hauling children is totally possible.)  It would be great on days when I need to pick him up at work, and so simple for the two of us to take the train to another city on weekends and have instant mobility when we get there!  Mostly, I think I wish that the two of us had gotten folding bikes a couple of years ago, when we could really enjoy being childfree traveling cyclists, and really taken advantage of it.  I think if we were getting a second Citizen, I would either want to spring for the Gotham, or would just get the Miami, with it’s bigger wheels and 7 speeds.  Though, that means my husband will be a lot faster than me, and while he originally said he’d be willing to ride my light blue Tokyo, when it came out of the box he was like, “um, no.”  

Anyone else ride a folding bike? Anyone have any questions?

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Pregnancy and Cycling

The biggest problem with cycling while pregnant, is the number of stupid people out there who do not understand pregnancy or cycling.  This makes it very hard to do actual research, and since I wasn’t willing to stop cycling, I felt myself getting pretty frustrated, especially in the second trimester as my body started to really change.

I had zero problems continuing to ride in my first trimester. Even though I was pretty sick, and being thirsty made me gag, I never threw up on my bicycle and I generally felt microscopically better on days that I biked compared to riding the bus.  Riding the bus made me sick a couple of times, so there’s that.
I gained most of my weight during the first trimester in weeks 12 and 13.  So by Week 14, I was starting to notice some discomfort in the saddle, even on my regular morning commute.  I finally posted on a forum about it, because googling “saddle pain pregnancy” was not helping me find answers besides “stop riding when it becomes uncomfortable” or “buy a new seat” which I wanted to avoid.  One of the responses was to tilt the seat down ever so slightly, which did help a lot.  I also lowered the seat just a bit because it was causing me some hip pain to swing my leg up and over the seat.
I did all of my training rides for the International Distance tri I did at 16 weeks clipped into my bike – these were rides 15-25 miles in length, and I turtled myself once at around 10-11 weeks because I thought I was unclipped and I wasn’t – I went to put my foot down and went right over.  I sustained a couple of bruises on my leg and elbow, but fell directly to the side rather than over my handlebars, and was going at a very low speed, so there was no damage done.  I’m a conservative rider generally so I did not ride super-fast ever.
At Week 16, I did my tri on my road bike and was fine, but found I could not go down into the aerobars (which I never do anyway because I’m a big scardycat), because my stomach had gotten too big and it was uncomfortable.  Around Week 18, I dropped my road bike off with my sister, who has custody of it until next January, so she could join me for the sprint tri we just did, and I test rode it to make sure they hadn’t done a terrible job tuning it up (they had) and I found it really uncomfortable. So I probably could not have ridden it past 18 weeks, personally.  My sister says I’m carrying low, so your mileage may vary.
At 19 weeks, we did a 25 mile bike ride on our tandem, which is the trek mountain bike tandem.  This was completely comfortable and not a problem at all – the rear of the tandem has a step through frame and a fairly upright setup. I think we did tilt my seat down slightly but otherwise I was completely fine. I opted not to clip in just because it was starting to make me uncomfortable to be clipped in.  Around 24-ish weeks, we did a short 10 or so mile ride on the tandem and that was also fine.  I think I could comfortably ride the tandem now.
At 21 weeks, I was still comfortably riding my Canondale Quick 3 to work, but I started to have trouble swinging my leg up and over the rear rack and itching to ride something more upright with a step-through frame.  We don’t have a ton of storage space for another bike, and carrying one up and down the steps is the main reason I went from a step through to a regular bike anyway, so I turned my search to folding bikes and decided to go with the Citizen Tokyo after some unsuccessful searches on Craigslist.  The Tokyo is an entry level price point and the appeal of the folding bike is that either my husband or I could ride it (although it’s baby blue so he probably won’t), and then if the other person needed to pick them up, it can go in the trunk.  This actually worked perfectly the one time so far that we tried it.
I’ve been riding the Tokyo for a little over a month now and I’m really happy with it.  I will give a more detailed review later, because there were very few honest reviews out there.  It’s 26 lbs, so the same weight as my Canondale, and has a low frame so I can step over it easily. I ordered it with the rear rack and the comfort seat.  The best part is that my Racktime Shoulderit Pannier bag actually fits on the rear rack – I wasn’t expecting that because the rear rack is tiny, the tubing is thick, and it’s low to the ground.  When I first pulled it out, we were like, “oh, gonna need a new work bag” but then I came home and told my husband that my ShoulderIt bag actually worked and he was like, “okay, I need to see this.”  It turns out that Ortlieb really knows what they are doing.
My new job is not too far from the train station, so the other purpose of getting a folding bike was that I could take it on the train.  I will be trying this next week.  I think, even though my pannier bag does fit, I will be riding with a backpack, because it’s hard to manage a shoulder bag and a folding bike at the same time.  I also will be hopefully exercising on my lunch break, and therefore might need to take workout clothes, plus my lunch, with me, and the backpack will just have more room.  I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep riding for – I’m really starting to slow down, so I think I might move to riding on the sidewalks of the busy streets soon. I’m not wild about this, but I’d rather ride on the sidewalk and annoy pedestrians than risk getting run over by an impatient driver.

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